Rooftop solar panels, also known as photovoltaic (PV) panels, are about to be everywhere in the EU. That’s good news but also raises fire safety concerns.
The good news is rooftop solar panels reduce building energy costs and emissions. This will help the EU reduce its dependence on fossil fuels and – together with energy efficiency measures – accelerate the region’s transition to greater energy independence and cleaner environment.
The challenge, however, is that there is no EU fire-safety regulation in place to mitigate the added fire risk that comes with putting electrical equipment on a building roof.
There are no official testing or assessment methods to measure the added risks, either. Nor is there any central database tracking fires caused by or involving rooftop solar panels – though we do know they occur and can be costly.
In the meantime, insurance companies are filling the regulatory gap with clear guidance to anyone considering rooftop solar/PV panels. Below is a sampling of how some global insurance giants advise their clients and what they recommend regarding the risks associated with rooftop PV panels.
But as the EU moves toward compulsory rooftop solar panels for all new public and commercial buildings by 2027 and residential buildings by 2029, it must also ensure that doing so does not unnecessarily increase the fire risk.
A simple and clear way of doing so is to follow the insurance companies’ lead by requiring that buildings with rooftop solar/PV panels be combined with non-combustible roof materials such as insulation.
Important disclaimer: The below named insurers were not contacted or involved in any way with the creation of this text. Follow the links below each to view the source material.